By S.D. Plissken | September 25, 2018
The minor league Pawtucket Red Sox’s contractual agreement with their “home” city of Pawtucket, RI has run its course. It was little mentioned in press reports, but the Pawtucket Red Sox (PawSox) organization shopped around for the best terms. That would be its fiduciary duty. It did the right thing.
Pawtucket, and the State of Rhode Island, failed to come to terms with the “home” team. The best that Pawtucket and Rhode Island could offer was an $83 million project without any state bond involvement. That was nowhere near good enough.
Worcester’s economic developers offered more, which “encouraged” the PawSox to come to an understanding with them. The PawSox will invest a bare $6 million on new facilities in Worcester. Worcester will take out $100.8 million in bonds for the venture, up front, repayable over thirty years. The PawSox will contribute $30.2 million toward repayment of that, but spread over the thirty year period. The Worcester taxpayers will pony up the rest. If bond interest functions anything like mortgage interest, the “rest” will be a vastly larger number than $100.8 million minus $30.2 million equals $70.6 million. It might cost double the $70.6 million, or even more, before the bonds are “retired.”
So, the PawSox will become the WooSox, or something of the sort, when they take up their new residence in Worcester, MA. Grand. Hopefully, other businesses will flow into town in the WooSox wake. That is the idea, anyway – a WooSox business district.
Some other cities that have financed minor-league baseball stadiums have failed to cover debt payments with new revenue, and have had to dip into their general funds (WBUR, 2018).
Of course, even if new businesses do take up residence around the new stadium, they will have been subsidized by Worcester taxpayers. The taxpayers will have paid partially already for whatever those businesses might offer, before they even step into them. They pay to create those businesses and then they pay more after for the goods and services themselves. That sounds great, for those new businesses.
And, heaven forbid, what if the WooSox were to fail and go out of business before the period of thirty years elapses? The taxpayers would still be on the hook for those bonds. Even those not yet born and who would never have even seen the WooSox play.
What happens in thirty years? Well, the WooSox will shop around again, just as they should. Worcester can then try to further “encourage” them, as Pawtucket did. Perhaps the WooSox will want a new stadium, an exit ramp, or some other basket of goodies, in order to remain in Worcester. More taxpayer money. Failing that, the WooSox will be happy enough to become the Someplace-Else-Sox, if someplace else can come up with a better “deal.”
Well, here’s a thought. Will the taxpayers get tickets to the games at least? Yes, if they buy them. Seats sold separately.
Business Insider. (2018, February 24). What abandoned Olympic venues from around the world look like today. Retrieved from www.businessinsider.com/abandoned-olympic-venues-around-the-world-photos-rio-2016-8
Forbes. (2018, August 21). Red Sox Affiliate, A Minor League Gold Mine, Is Leaving Pawtucket For Worcester. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/barrymbloom/2018/08/21/the-loss-of-red-sox-triple-a-franchise-for-pawtucket-is-worcesters-gain/#24de56112fb4
Milton Observer. (2018, August 31). Milton’s Idée Fixe. Retrieved from wordpress.com/post/miltonobserver.com/206
Providence Journal. (2018, September 3). PawSox season finale brings poignant sense of loss to fans. Retrieved from www.providencejournal.com/news/20180903/pawsox-season-finale-brings-poignant-sense-of-loss-to-fans
The Simpsons. (1993, January 14). Marge Vs. the Monorail – Excerpt. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=taJ4MFCxiuo
WBUR. (2018, September). Worcester City Council Approves $100 Million Stadium Package To Lure PawSox. Retrieved from www.wbur.org/bostonomix/2018/09/13/worcester-city-council-approves-100-million-stadium-package-to-lure-pawsox
WGBH. (2018, August 17). Why The Pawtucket Red Sox Are Moving To Worcester. Retrieved from www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2018/08/17/why-the-pawtucket-red-sox-are-moving-to-worcester
Wikipedia. (2018, July 21). Crony Capitalism. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism